International Meeting for Autism Research: Creating Structured Teaching Classrooms: Preliminary Evaluation of a 5 Day Training Model

Creating Structured Teaching Classrooms: Preliminary Evaluation of a 5 Day Training Model

Friday, May 21, 2010
Franklin Hall B Level 4 (Philadelphia Marriott Downtown)
10:00 AM
J. Salt , HAVE Dreams, Park Ridge, IL
C. Flint , HAVE Dreams, Park Ridge, IL
K. Johnsen , HAVE Dreams, Park Ridge, IL
M. Winnega , Psychiatry, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL
B. Leventhal , Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, New York University & Nathan Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research, Orangeburg, NY

Teachers who are certified in special education rarely receive specialized training in autism.  Our training program is a state-wide, intensive training based on structured teaching principles.  It was originally established with consultation from Dr Lee Marcus of TEACCH.  Structured teaching is a specific instructional strategy designed to accommodate the characteristic strengths and neuropsychological differences of those with autism. 

Our week long, interactive training provides an opportunity to receive in-vivo supervision and feedback from experienced trainers.  Through lectures, hands-on construction of visual supports and materials, participants create a classroom and work with children with ASD based on the pyramid model of physical structure, individual schedules, independent work systems, routines and strategies, and visual organization.

This study investigated the preliminary effectiveness of the training model for instructing teachers to set up structured teaching classrooms.  The study addressed (i) knowledge of structured teaching gained across the 5 day training period and (ii) the implementation of specific structured teaching strategies following training. Methods:

(i) Participating teachers and educators (n= 90) who attended the hands on 5 day training workshop completed a structured questionnaire pre and post training.

The questionnaire was developed and piloted by the lead trainers to assess key aspects of structured teaching practice and principles.  Answer responses were mixed between fill-in-the blank, open ended and forced choice responses.  The final questionnaire had 16 questions, with a maximum total score of 48.

(ii) 3 months into the school year following training, participants were contacted by email and asked to return a survey of structured teaching strategies they implemented in their schools.


i) T-test revealed that there was a significant ( p<.05) increase in knowledge of structured teaching scores pre and post training.  

2 questions were focused on a re-structure of a visual task and were double scored for accuracy.  For these tasks, inter-rater reliability was excellent (96%) as measured by the proportion of agreement between scorers.

ii) A response rate of n= 40 (44%) was achieved for the follow up survey.

Follow up questions indicated that physical structure, visual schedules, work systems and visual tasks were universally implemented by responders.  Follow up consultation, directly following training, was requested by 39/40 responders.  Direct observation of a small number of classrooms was achieved at follow up (n=5).  Self report and direct observation of implemented strategies was 100%, indicating that self report was accurate in a small sample.  


These results indicate the preliminary effectiveness of our training program.  Participants significantly increased their knowledge of structured teaching practices by attending our training.  Furthermore, once they returned to their home schools they implemented a multitude of structured teaching techniques.  Although satisfaction of training was very high, desire for ongoing consultation at follow up is an issue that could be addressed.  A more rigorous methodology is needed to extend confidence in these evaluation results.

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